By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Rapid economic growth and its sustainability as well as the empowerment of the citizenry, which are indices of national development, have continued to elude Nigeria because of the lip service being paid to science and technology.
This was part of the submissions of Maj-Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd) in his lecture entitled “Leadership, Followership, Development and the Future,” which he delivered in Lagos lat week to mark the birthday celebration of the Presiding Bishop of TREM, Dr. Mike Okonkwo.
According to Williams, any country aspiring to develop must place emphasis on science and technology education, and much invest in science and technology-based research, adding that concentrating on science and technology will lead to the creation of a new crop of entrepreneurs that will fastrack the economic growth of the nation.
His words: “We need to enhance the quality of our human resources especially through quality education, ICT and other enablers. We need more emphasis on “scientification” of indigenous science, technology and innovation”.
Human resource development, says Williams, must go with Nigeria’s natural resources so that economic management of the latter will lead to maximum benefits for the former, explaining that the combination of NEEDS, SEEDS and LEEDS in Nigeria, which is her national development strategy, is a must before it can overcome the challenges militating against her development.
The desired level of development, which guarantees cheap labour or developed infrastructure with quality human resources and purchasing power, says Williams, requires obligatory access to justice and basic social and economic services with full citizens participatory by all segments and sectors of the society.
Williams, who is the Executive Secretary of Pan African Strategic and Policy Research Group, says that the country is still far from a just society, saying that it is not only disorderliness and ill-discipline that bedevil Nigeria but also the entrenchment of economic injustice through income inequality by concentrating income in an affluent minority to the detriment of a poor majority.
“If we are disorderly and disorganised, then we cannot be productive. In the world, it is those who produce at high level of productivity that survive and prosperous whether industrial or natural resource based sectors,”says Maj-Gen Ishola Williams.
For Nigeria’s national development strategy to work, he avers, we need the followership and the leadership to share responsibilities with each party playing its role to the full, adding that the problem with Nigeria is not leadership but followership.
He says: “If the Nigeria attitude to work is bad within a disorganized and disorderly atmosphere, who is to blame? It is from followership that sets the standards and creates the enabling environment for good leadership to emerge and to operate successfully for the betterment of all. Followership can determine the type of leader they want and decide why, how and where he/she must take them to in the immediate future.
On the type of leadership which Nigeria needs to ensure national development, Williams says that those who are elected must first be responsible followers who have displayed high sense of commitment and who are well-known for their personal integrity with the potential to take them to the desired level of development.
“Higher civil servants known as permanent secretaries and directors with political technocrats who are special advisers are key to our national development. They influence and impact on our lives more than the political office holders. These career administrators and the instruments of administrative continuity have to possess character, ability and experience. They are there to advise, assist and to a great extent influence the temporary political office holders.”
Unfortunately, Nigeria is drowned in the sea of corrupt practices, says Gen. Ishola Williams, inspired by bad followership which allows bad leadership with impunity.
He explained that before the efforts at achieving Vision 20: 2020 can be fruitful, Nigeria needs an enabling public sector with incorruptible technocrats in all organisations, adding that Nigeria must fix the system in terms of institutions, the operational doctrine and actors so that good leadership can emerge at various levels on a continuous level.
According to Williams, this is necessary because the political field presently is not open for those who the followers want as their leaders, saying that there is the need for a shift in followership mentality and sense of responsibility if Nigeria is to develop.